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Shadow Puppet Store in Beijing
In fact, the small store doesn't major on shadow puppets. But when the shadow puppets collected from around the country, dangle behind the window, it is really impressive enough to usher you in the shop, which sells anything "you can play with your hand.

Inside it looks more like a living room than a shop with a stove in the middle.

Some people sit on the sofa surrounding the stove and chat over a small kettle of tea. The owner, a man in his thirties, with a small hammer in hand, is striking on something.

"How much does the puppet cost?" I asked.

"How much will you like to pay for it?" the owner replied.

It seemed that he was reluctant to sell the puppets, and really he was.

It was then I found that he was striking on a piece of coral and there are various kind of beads on plates on the stack. Unlike those found in the modern DIY jewelry shop, they are not new and not so well arranged.

In fact, the beads, whose materials vary from coral, elephant trunk, and agate to sandalwood, are collected from temples around the country.

The owner, who has been collecting beads since childhood, is informative and ready to explain the difference between seemly similar beads. He is honest in telling the customer which is a replica and which is a real antique.

There are also decorative pieces like sculptures of buddhas and vases available in the shop. And it does sell new shadow puppets at a price of 90 yuan (US$11) each.

Location: At the west end of Houhai Nanyan, Xicheng District

Hours: 9 am to 9 pm

Tel: 6615-8031

(Beijing Weekend January 10, 2003)

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